Valley Community Health Center Takes a New Name, Starts Health Collaborative to Address Community Issues

Since its founding in 1972, Valley Community Health Center has been the sole provider of medical care for residents of eastern Alameda County regardless of their ability to pay. Community clinics operate in Pleasanton, Livermore, and Dublin that provide medical care, mental health counseling, WIC nutrition services, and comprehensive drug and alcohol recovery programs. With over 20,000 Tri-Valley residents using the group's services every year, it may come as a surprise that they are changing their name to Axis Community Health, but that's exactly what is happening.

The name change comes after an extensive strategic planning process that included a great deal of research into community knowledge and understanding of the organization.

"We heard the message - 'Change your name!' - loud and clear," explains Bert Brook, president of the group's board of directors. The process began with a community contest to come up with a new name and concluded with the selection of Axis Community Health as the winner.

"The word 'Axis' itself means partnership, alliance, and hub and represents the collection of healthcare services we offer as well as our close collaboration with other local, county, and non-profit agencies," he says. The group points out that the name is also a play on words - "Axis" sounds like "access," which is what they offer.

Axis Community Health executive director Ronald Greenspane notes that more changes are on the way.

"Changing our name is the beginning of an aggressive program to educate the community about our mission as its healthcare safety net," he says. "Though some people may know about our low-cost medical care for uninsured and underinsured residents, they may not know that we can also provide youth counseling, physicals and immunizations required for school-age children, drug and alcohol abuse counseling, DUI classes, and even aid to teachers who need assistance in presenting health-related classes."

All of the group's fees are assessed on a sliding scale based on income and family size, except for the fees set by the State of California for items such as certain classes.

"Our Eligibility and Enrollment Department assists patients in registering for and enrolling in health plans such as Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, or another of the many county, state, and federal programs," Greenspane continues. "We are the only organization in the Tri-Valley offering eligibility and enrollment services."

Axis Community Health has even more planned for 2004. On March 30, they are holding the first meeting of the Tri-Valley Health Collaborative, a partnership of government officials, representatives from school districts, courts, transportation agencies, religious groups, health and human services providers, community leaders, and interested citizens brought together to address key health issues in the Tri-Valley. The group will be led by Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Axis board member Bette Felton, RN, DrPH.

The Collaborative's mission will be to proactively plan and prioritize their efforts in anticipation of the fiscal challenges faced by state and local governments so that affordable health care will continue to be made available to all community residents.

The inaugural planning session for the Tri-Valley Health Collaborative will be held on Tuesday, March 30 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Shaklee Corporation, 4747 Willow Road in Hacienda. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP to Donna Bratton-Kearns at (925) 201-6030 or .

If businesses or individuals would like a presentation on the services provided by Axis Community Health, contact outreach specialist Jenny Donovan at (925) 201-6082 or .

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